QOTW #72 – Classic Vanquish the ultimate ride the ultimate diva

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We’re just interrupting this episode to bring you news of an exciting new giveaway that we’re running on Instagram. Click our Instagram link in the bio, and in the month of October, November, and December, we’re going to have separate giveaways.

You won’t want to miss this one. For the month of October, we’re giving away a fantastic Autoglym kit.

Welcome to BamfordRose, and another question of the week. This week’s question is mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest diva of them all? Why? It’s a classic vanquish. You didn’t think that you were going to get that brute in a suit, unmistakable, classic yet understated appearance and not pay some price.

If anyone asks me which one of the Aston models is my favorite, then they all tick different boxes. They all serve different purposes. But in terms of just drop-dead gorgeous looks, everything that an English sports car should be classic, understated. The brute in a suit classic vanquish is at the top of my list.

But hey, are they divas? They really take some looking after in the workshop. And if thinking about purchasing one of these great cars, you really must know that to go into it eyes wide open. Before getting shocked by some of the eye-watering bills that it can take to keep these cars on the road.

But lock the car up, and look back at it as you walk away, and you will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that some of the grief to keep the car on the road is worth it. The styling of this car just knocks the socks off all other Astons.

The interior of the car is beyond dated, but that just adds to its charm because owning one of these cars is all about the experience of the presence that the car has. I mean, it definitely is not a Sunday afternoon spirited drive car.

This is a high days and holidays GT cruiser that even on AMB roads you don’t really hustle it. It’s not that sort of car, just take the journey in its stride, waft along, and then, on the odd occasion straight stretch its legs, open her up, and that’s when the v12 engine will let you know that you are actually driving a supercar.

Because it does pick up its heels and go pretty sharpish. The classic vanquish came out in 2001, and in approximately 2004, it was upgraded to the vanquish S. Which was about 70 BHP over a standard vanquish, originally 450 horsepower, S had 520. S had evolved suspension and a little bit sharper brakes.

The last of the S’s had an infotainment system very similar to db9. You get a tablet built into the dash. Obviously, S’s come at a premium, and in today’s market, a scraggy Vanquish is probably going to go for about 50,000 pounds. Best of the non-S money is probably about 85-90. Scraggy S is probably going to go for about 80 or 90.

Top examples are probably in the 120 to 150k bracket, and your complete time warp very few miles, nearly new condition inside and out cars. I’ve seen advertised from 150 up to 200k. We’re in a vanquish S today, and we’re going to go for a little drive and talk you through a flavor of what it feels like to pilot this fantastic car.

Personally, for me, I don’t care too much whether it’s a non-S or an S because vanquish isn’t the type of car to go hustling through twisters on A and B roads. And it’s more of a GT cruiser. For me, it sort of doesn’t matter that you’re in a non-S and you haven’t got the evolved dynamics of the S model.

Because whatever Vanquish you’re in, you’re going to take it steady apart from the odd occasional time you open her up on a straight. And because vanquish can be such a diva to keep on the road, it wants to visit a workshop for a pamper whenever it feels like it. Means that at non-S or S territory, you do not want to be buying the scraggy end of the market. Purchasing a vanquish is all about going through its history.

Having a look at what has been done, and bear that in mind with what you know needs to be done. So I think just generally buying at the upper end of non-S is better than buying a scraggy S. Despite how good I think this car is, I’m often disappointed by its residual values. They haven’t taken off like the like for like Ferrari has done, but that’s the same with most Astons, really.

They don’t go skywards in value; to be fair, neither do most Bentleys. It’s only some Ferraris and other brands that do that. Which I guess makes it better for those of us that want to buy the cars and use them as cars. But Vanquishes brutal, awesome looks come at a high price. This car is super high maintenance.

And as the years tick by, it’s very difficult to find a garage that’s competent enough to look after one of these cars properly. Now I was fortunate enough to work in prototype development on vanquish S, and in early 2011 at the start of BamfordRose, we identified that vanquish was a car that we were going to become absolute top specialists in.

The likes of children Aston already commanded the db7 market, and as newer models come out, and the high turnover of staff means that staff previously experienced a vanquish in the franchise dealership leave and not be replaced by new people experienced on vanquish. Means that in the UK, at least, there’s either us BamfordRose or work service, we’re pretty much the only two garages competent enough to work on these cars.

Being slightly older than the other new era Aston Martins means that instead of just routine service and maintenance, the classic vanquish is now bordering on rejuvenation stroke restoration. By largely, the engines in these cars are bulletproof, so there’s no real routine or regular breakdowns or fixes that the engine needs.

Its weak spot is the auto-shift, manual paddle shift, gear system, front subframe corrosion, exhaust system cracks, rear subframe corrosion. And most steel components on the underside which need rejuvenation or restoration, some form of powder coating. Vanquish can suffer with quirky electronics; most common will be chafing harness sections.

And because no two harnesses are the same, when they were put together on the clock face, any different wire could be in any position. Means that it’s not a hundred percent every time in the sections where the harness does chafe, that it’s the same wire that chafes, resulting in the same end failure or electronic glitch.

Which is why vanquish isn’t only repaired by the clever use of spanners; clever use of laptop also can sort of vanquish out. Remapping, engine management system, body control modules, not to behave in a certain way if some non-critical faults keep occurring. Where the fix would be too big if you were going to take the engine out, harness out to repair a harness glitch, for instance.

The biggest problem area is the paddle-shift gearbox, and what we do with that is bulletproof the whole system. So we start with the ASM pump, the hydraulic actuator pack, which selects gears. The magnetic position sensor, clutch, and flywheel, and we set those up and renew all those components.

So it does what it says on the tin; the system is bulletproof. There are other options out there; there is a manual conversion. As I’ve stated in a previous video, we don’t rate the conversion of vanquish to manual.

And when you get in vanquish, you open the door handle; you hear the gearbox pump prime, gives you a supercar feel. You then go through a bit of a startup ritual, sit in the car, double paddle to get neutral.

The engine crank enable button comes alive. And if you were to convert the car from that paddle shift system to manual, you lose that sense of supercar occasion. And you just sit in the car, press the clutch pedal, press the go button; it doesn’t quite feel the same. Where the gear lever has to sit isn’t the most ergonomically positioned place to put a gear lever.

Meaning that when you’re sat in the car, it’s very difficult to get comfortable. Elbow and hand position on the gear lever and in the cabin. You’ve got your arm resting on the center console trim; you hit the back of the seat as you try to change gear. And then if you’ve got larger hands when the gear lever is in the forward throw, it’s going to mean that you’ll hit your hand against the center console.

The gear gate selection isn’t precise, so you have to think about what gear you’re in, what gear you want to go to next, costs an absolute packet to get done. I can’t really think of any positives a manual vanquish has over a bulletproof auto-shift manual system.

And then driving the car, if you’re going around a swooping bend as you’re accelerating when you change gear with the paddles, you’ve got a little bit of speed matching, engine rev-matching.

Making the gear shift very smooth. In the manual, as soon as you press the clutch pedal, midpoint round bend sort of get a bit of a chassis shimmer, and that’s because this driveline is not really suited to be in a manual gearbox at all. This whole car is just not suited manually. When you get to the point that the car needs a bit of rejuvenation, a front subframe probably needs removing. Some corroded sections are removed and put on a jig, weld in new template sections.

And then zinc plate, powder coat, and then that subframe is going to be fit for considerably longer than the standard factory part, which wasn’t really coated adequately enough from birth. On the rear end, diff bushes go, the exhaust system is going to split and crack.

The rear subframe will need powder coating at some point in time. Roll bars, dampers, other brackets need powder coating. So it’s quite often to combine all that package of rear-end works in a rejuvenation project encompassing everything in one go.

The clutch on this car is extremely expensive. With a slave cylinder from Aston, that clutch package is about four and a half thousand pounds plus v80, that’s just the parts, not fitted.

Brakes, if it’s an S 1200 pounds of disc. So the caution point with vanquish is that parts prices are high, and it’s not that the car is technologically advanced, it’s just the way it’s constructed to take it apart, put it back together again it consumes hours and hours in a workshop.

So the price to keep one of these bad boys on the road can be pretty high. It Gets worse if you buy a car at the scraggy end or don’t do your homework and check what has been done, and get a pre-purchase inspection to identify what needs to be done.

Now that should be enough to warn anyone off this car. However, as soon as you put the key in the ignition, sit in the driver’s seat, start Vanquish up and listen to that distinctive v12 exhaust note that vanquish has. Then it’s no wonder you get drawn in by just how tempting this diva is.

So we’re now out on the BamfordRose loop in the Aston Martin vanquish. Now I said this car wasn’t the car for a spirited Sunday afternoon drive, but if you get on a B road such as this, up to the national speed limit, then the vanquish is going to handle those roads, those twists, those turns without any problem at all. But what it won’t like is being hustled around these sorts of twisty roads.

It won’t like last-minute breaking. Stamping on accelerator and brake pedals, it’s a GT car that prefers to waft along. I definitely wouldn’t go searching for that spirited drive ownership experience in this car. This car is definitely going to be suited to the owner that does want to use it for high days, holidays, and cruise in a GT mode.

The plus points of ownership experience of a classic vanquish is going to be the undisputed king of the brute in the suit looks and reveling in the nostalgia. This was the last handbill Aston Martin that came out of Newport panel.

And combined those attributes with perhaps membership to the Aston Martin owners club, where on any given Sunday, on a summer’s day, you can pitch up at some stately home, roll out your picnic carpet and enjoy being in the company of other vanquish owners.

Or setting sail on a ferry and cruising from England to the South of France or Spain, those would be the best parts of the vanquish ownership experience.

It’s for that reason I said that for me, it doesn’t matter if it’s a non-S compared to an S because the evolution of S doesn’t translate into the way that I would drive this car. However, there are owners out there who do like to evolve their car to the best it can be, and this vanquish S is evolved by us to about the highest level that you could get the driving dynamics.

The steel brakes have gone, and we’ve retrofitted carbon ceramics from 2010 DBS or v12 vantage. Damping has been evolved, it’s had a pair of high lift inlet cams, exhaust manifolds, and catalysts. Together with an ECU remap that takes the 520 BHP standard vanquish S to approximately 580-590.

Properly looking after a vanquish in the workshop just for routine care and maintenance takes a high level of skill, knowledge, experience just in itself. So being able to performance evolve a vanquish in that way brakes, handling, engine power really does showcase our command of vanquish.

When a vanquish comes in for service, the inspection report takes much longer on a vanquish than any new era Aston Martin. It takes quite a while to remove a vanquish under surface trays, which has to be done to be able to properly visually inspect the underside of the vanquish.

No matter how low the mileage, no matter how shiny the paintwork, and no matter how new the interior leather smells of any vanquish. No matter the garage that was selling it, and no matter the high price it was going for.

Every single vanquish is going to need some sort of repair works or preventative maintenance and evolution. So when we service a vanquish, we’ll separate our findings into three groups.

First group will be works, repair works that need doing immediately. This is either because there’s some sort of component failure, or it’ll fail an MOT. Second group will repair works that are going to be needed in the short term, perhaps before the next service interval.

And the third category will be repair works that are on the longer-term horizon, and it’s just nice to do to keep the vanquish in tip-top level of care.

But because the parts and labor bill can stack up on a vanquish pretty quickly, it’s quite normal with each owner that after identifying those groups, we chart a plan of care for the vanquish. Which, with budget in mind, navigates our way through that list over a number of years.

For all the positives that you get from ownership of an Aston martin vanquish, keeping it on the road and repair bills is the one big reason that keeps most people away from these cars. I think secretly, most owners or enthusiasts of the brand will identify the Aston Martin vanquish as one of the best, one of the most beautiful cars.

Their relatively low resale value means that they’re in reach. It’s that unknown in terms of cost and activity it takes to keep them on the road, which keeps most people away from them. Now, if you get a good one, get a well-evolved, well-maintained one and use it across five given Sundays of the year.

If you’re lucky, you could go a few years and have no problems at all. If you want to buy a vanquish and put it to greater use than that, then they can be more unpredictable to keep on the road and at times be quite frustrating. Had a number of Vanquish customers over the years who have had breakdown after breakdown after breakdown, all unrelated and nothing that could have been foreseen.

Meaning if you’re going to use the vanquish quite regularly and actually wanting to get to the destination instead of getting to know the AAA man on first-name terms. That very real possible scenario of ownership just takes the smile off it a little bit.

There are several cars out there that a good number of years ago we bulletproof the transmission, and these cars have now clocked up 40k without needing any real significant transmission maintenance.

And because most people know that that’s the nature of vanquish, they’re not a spirited Sunday afternoon driver’s car, more of a GT cruiser.

And the cars do need a sympathetic owner who’s not scared of maintenance. Means that most cars are generally well looked after. So if you wanted to tick all of those ownership experience boxes, which a vanquish delivers, and you wanted to drive around in the king of a brute in a suit looks, my advice would be to pick your garage and get to know them on first name terms.

Get a really thorough inspection done that categorizes works in the three groups I mentioned earlier. Formulate a plan on how to repair and evolve the car in line with the mileage and the use that you’re going to give it. When clutch wears out, when brakes wears out, there are evolutionary upgrades to fit instead of OEM equipment.

I wouldn’t be blinkered by an S; I really do think the enjoyment of this car is best had kicking back, relaxing, cruising and if you got the best of a non-S for about 80 or 90k compared to spending say 120-130k on an S that’s going to give you a big kitty to keep the car on the road. We’re now out for a drive in a 2002 Aston martin vanquish, obviously a non-S.

And immediate comparisons with the S, I actually prefer these comfort seats off the non-S. They’re obviously not going to support you if you started to move the car around a bit, as well as the seats, the sport seats in the S. But just in a straight line, you’ve got better comfort in these seats.

And as I’ve said many times, the vanquish ownership and driving experience is not about being thrown around in the car. So I prefer these seats for that reason. Now, although the S that we were just in has the infotainment and tablet system that’s very similar to a db9, and I said that the center console and interior looked beyond dated. But concluded, it adds to Vanquishes charm.

In this non-S, we have the original center console system, which looks like it’s been lifted straight out of the arc. But again, I think that adds to the charm of vanquish. And if this car was parked up a car show somewhere and some oik was to poke their head through the windscreen and comment on just how dated the dashboard looks, he would be totally missing the point about what the ownership experience of this car is all about.

And if you pick your line, you can make comfortable and good progress. But because we’re not pushing the vanquish any more than that, unless it was in a straight line like now. Oh, she’ll do the business, means that the way I drive vanquish and what I expect from it means that a non-S is as good as an S.

This particular car has come all the way to France for us to bulletproof the gear system. The owner is just tired of the system letting him down.

Been to several dealerships in France, each have done a pump or clutch or a sensor a different part of the system, but never really has the system been gone over comprehensively in total to bulletproof it, so it doesn’t break down, and it lasts a reasonable amount of miles for next seeing the workshop on a breakdown.

If you’re thinking about vanquish ownership and never owned one in the past, then go to wherever it’s being sold, take it out for a good test drive. Yes, brakes, handling, suspension, steering, performance, nowhere near close to a modern-day car, but that’s not what vanquish ownership is about.

The flappy paddle gearbox has been criticized by many. But if you drive the car knowing how it’s going to behave, then in paddle mode, you can control gears, and if you’re in D mode, your inputs can control gears. Instead of trying to drive the car like a conventional auto.

Then knowing how the car drives, get out of it on the forecourt, walk away a few paces, turn around, look back. If you’re having second thoughts that vanquish ownership is for you at that point, then walk away.

But if the brutish looks of vanquish draw you in, so you just can’t say no, just be prepared for the car to be a bit of a diva, perhaps not make it to your final destination all of the time.

Perhaps, it’s inside the workshop for more time than it’s in your garage. Parts supply can be an issue these days. And some re-engineering often takes a little bit longer to design, develop and source the parts.

But that’s everything that makes vanquish ownership never boring. Hope you like that bit of an overview of vanquish. And come and check us out tomorrow on our classified chat, where we’ll be having a quick look through at some of the vanquish that’s available in the marketplace.

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